Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Wind, wilderness and memory 

Wind. I lean into it walking down the street, am buffeted by it as it funnels through a gap between buildings; I sit here on this bench hunched before it writing these words whilst autumn leaves dance about my head – it’s an infrequent visitor here in the big metropolis, except when approaching these times of equinox. At other times it’s easy to forget that cities and towns live under the same skies, the same clouds, the same rains as those which also pass over the fields and hills. Having no horizon other than encircling monoliths of glass and concrete, the skies might just as well be as far away as the stars, and as unobserved by city-dwellers. Winds though are harder to ignore; wild-ness comes rampaging out of the wilderness into the heart of civilisation.

Oh, what happened? Once I would have delighted in trying to capture in words the essence of this moment. Now, the struggle is almost too great. Too much bother. Almost, but not quite; not quite yet. So I cling on by my fingernails rather than let go altogether and sink into the wordless oblivion of the writer who has forsaken his craft.

But I wonder… I’ve been assuming that if I let go I’d fall, endlessly; a fall that being free-fall seems to have no movement at all – an equilibrium state of fallingness you might say. But suppose instead the wind of fate took me up and bore me where it will?

No, it’s a myth; it never happens like that. Fate never intervenes with any purpose of its own, even at our bidding. It may offer a helping hand along the way, or point out some signposts we’d otherwise miss, but the pathway must be chosen and trodden by us and us alone.

Wind. It awakens memories of the hills. Wind has its dwelling in the hills, wanders amongst them daily, unleashes its greatest energies in the highest places. Just occasionally though it allows the hills a moment’s respite and takes a day out to visit these lowland city places. Feeling the chill on my back as its fingers reach through the fibres of my jacket, feeling the hair blown across my face, listening to the rustle of leaves chased along the pavement, awakens a longing for wilder places, a longing I’ve had to suppress because to feel it too keenly all the while it remains unfulfilled only serves to heighten the ever-present dissatisfaction.

Yet when it is felt rather than imagined, the memory is a fond one.

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